MELBOURNE, Fla. – The family of one of two teens shot and killed by a Brevard County deputy is demanding answers from the state attorney’s office. About an hour after that news conference, the state attorney’s office released a statement saying the review is in its final stages.
Cynthia Byrd Green — the aunt of Sincere Pierce, who raised him as her own — spoke in Melbourne Tuesday with members of Justice Brevard, a community group that says it is “working to ensure transparency and equal justice for all in Brevard County.”
“I want justice. I want transparency. I want everything that’s coming to my baby because he didn’t deserve this,” Green said.
Pierce, 18, and Angelo “AJ” Crooms, 16, were both shot and killed by Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda on Nov. 13, 2020 in a Cocoa neighborhood.
In the days after the shooting, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said two deputies were attempting to conduct a traffic stop of what they believed to be a stolen car. After Crooms, who was driving, attempted to continue to drive, Santiago-Miranda opened fire, in fear he was going to be struck by the vehicle, according to the sheriff. The other deputy on scene did not fire their weapon.
According to the sheriff, investigators found two guns in the vehicle.
Green said the car actually belonged to Crooms’ girlfriend.
“That was her car. It was never reported stolen. They said two found guns in that car. There was never no guns found in that car,” Green claimed.
The shooting was handed over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate, which is standard procedure when an officer of the law is involved in a shooting. On Feb. 5, the FDLE turned over its investigative findings to the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office, but that office has not announced whether the deputy who shot and killed Pierce and Crooms could face any charges.
“Why is it taking so long? I need to know this,” Green said. “There’s no reason that these guys (the deputies) here is still on administrative leave with my tax money. I’m a homeowner and I know my taxes are paying their salary.”
The state attorney’s office told News 6 there is no timeline for that announcement.
“The file has been on (State Attorney) Phil Archer’s desk since Feb. 5, 2021. This is now April 20, 2021. Why is it taking so long?” Green asked.
She later added, “I mean, a blind man can see that that was wrong. He can see that was wrong, you don’t just open fire on a car with kids in it.”
The Brevard County State Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that the review is in its final stages but it’s still unclear when it will be completed.
“On February 10th, 2021, our office announced we had received the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigative report surrounding the November 13, 2020, use of deadly force by Brevard County Deputy Jafet Santiago Miranda resulting in the deaths of Sincere Pierce and Angelo Crooms.
“At that time we stated there was no timeline for completion and our office would conduct an exhaustive inquiry into the information provided, as well as pursue any investigative leads or information uncovered during that process. Since then prosecutors have worked diligently toward the completion of that review. We have avoided commenting publicly on the review due to the possibility of creating speculation in the media, as well as the emotional toll this type of commentary takes on everyone touched by this tragedy.
“With the receipt of a letter sent to us by the Cocoa City Council yesterday, and today’s press conference by Justice Brevard, we believe it’s important to dispel concerns that our office is unresponsive and hasn’t communicated with the Pierce and Crooms families.
“Our attorneys have been communicating with the legal representatives of both families since receiving the FDLE investigation on February 5, 2021. This ongoing line of communication was the result of honoring our legal obligation after we were placed on notice that the families were represented by counsel.
“We have reached the final stages of our review and we will continue to maintain our policy of not discussing the case publicly while that process is underway,” the statement read.
Following the news briefing, Green and the members of Justice Brevard raised their hands above their heads and began chanting, “No justice, no peace.”